Lost Mississippi: Father Ryan House, Biloxi (1841-2005)

On this 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we think of our friends and landmarks on the Gulf Coast and hope to see them on the other side of Hurricane Isaac. Meanwhile, we pause to remember another one of our landmarks lost seven years ago today, the Father Ryan House in Biloxi.

The rather dry National Register description of the house doesn’t mention the most distinctive and obvious character trait of Father Ryan, the palm tree growing through the front steps. But the bed and breakfast that operated in the house in its later years still has its website, which is bittersweet in its use of the present tense:

The Father Ryan House Bed and Breakfast Inn is a National Historic Landmark located in Biloxi, Mississippi. Built in 1841, it is one of the oldest remaining structures on the Gulf Coast and the one time home of Father Abram Ryan, Poet Laureate of the Confederacy.

Situated on the beautiful white sand beach of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the House and grounds have been painstakingly restored and furnished according to that period.

Each room and suite has its own unique character and charm. You may choose to enjoy the spectacular view from the Jefferson Room and pamper yourself with a whirlpool bath or relax in the stately elegance and romance of the Father Ryan Rooms which are furnished with exquisitely hand crafted beds and antiques dating back to the early 1800’s.

Today only the palm tree remains, shorn of its stairs.


For more hurricane stories from Mississippi, see “Lost to Katrina” and “Katrina Survivors.”

Categories: Biloxi, Demolition/Abandonment, Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina, Lost Mississippi

15 replies

  1. Enjoyed the website link you provided. Love that it is still viewable! Looking at all the beautiful views from the rooms and their lovely furnishings and all the history the home once held makes me terribly sad – – gone with the wind.


  2. one of my favorites–so sad that these landmarks are gone. irish hill is looking a little better though there is plenty of rebuilding room remaining throughout biloxi.


  3. Thanks for the memos – I stayed there several times and it was lovely and comfortable and hospitable. I didn’t know the palm tree was still there. How ironic. Without the tangible resource of the historic house to remind us, who out there during the Civil War sesquicentennial is talking about the poet laureate of the Confederacy?


  4. My wife and I married on those steps on April 12th of 1997 and my whole family spent the night there that evening. My wife and I still have fond memories of the whole Biloxi coast and that amazing day.


  5. My husband and I have enjoyed several visits to the Father Ryan House, and as the years passed I believe the home sweetened through the ages just like wine. I imagined Father Ryan himself hosting a traveler in need of a place to rest his head, and the early days of operation as a bed and breakfast establishment. I feel blessed to have been fortunate enough to spend time in such a lovely, historic home. (I particularly liked the second floor) The Father Ryan House was owned by a Dr. And his wife, a nurse, and with the profits they would build hospitals in third world countries. A home rich in beauty and history, the Father Ryan House will be missed.


  6. Don’t cry for me Hurricane Katrina! The truth is I shall not leave you! Don’t make it harder, for you too see me! I kept my promise!


  7. We had such a magical stay here in 1997, beautiful old house. So sad she did not survive Katrina. Nice memories to take back to the UK. Ken can remember being stopped on the beach outside by two cops, but released as just ” a limey carrying a pole”. Ken & Anita


  8. Spent many of my childhood summer vacations here with my family in the late sixties through
    the mid seventies. My Grand Father owned
    the house at that time. So many fun
    memories with my family.


  9. The Father Ryan House was once owned by my great grandfather, (G. W. Carter), in the late 1800’s. We were all so excited when it became a bed and breakfast, rescuing it from many years of neglect. Thankfully, I, and many of my family, got to stay in the house before Katrina. My then young daughters and I actually stayed in the very room where my grandmother was born and my great grandparents died. I still remember my daughters twirling around the room, sure that they were within inches of where so much happened. I’m so sorry it’s gone, but am heartened to have so many photos and drawings of the house. It’s fun to compare the pictures watching the palm tree grow through the porch steps.


  10. I had an apartment in the house when I was stationed at Kessler AFB back in late 1966 until March 1968. My apartment was on the 1st floor, center apartment. It was a neat old house with so much history and beautiful beach & gulf view. I’m so sad that it’s gone. So many many wonderful memories for me.


  11. My wife & I lived in the Father Ryan home from Sep. `62 to Sep. `65 while I was stationed at Keesler AFB. Our apartment was on second floor at the East end of the house (upper right in the picture) The screen porch had french doors that opened into our bedroom. The picture is from a post card available in the 1960s. The lady on the front steps is Marcie Hilderbrand – our land lady. The car visible on the left is ours – a 1955 ford 2-door sedan. We went back several times after it became a bed and breakfast and enjoyed the work that had been put into the restoration to period furnishings. We stayed in the room that had been our bedroom and recalled many fond memories from 50 years earlier. It is sad that it is gone. On our last trip to Biloxi, we found that someone has cut down the palm tree – so sad.
    Les Selander

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I stayed at the Father Ryan House in 1996. One of my favorite places in the world.
    So sad it was lost to Mme Katrina. I never looked to check for sure. So today when I looked it up in planning a drive through the area, I am remembering it. I am so sad (but not shocked, because I knew) that I will not get to see it again. But, I am ever so thankful I was witness to it and that I have such a joyful.memory of its specialness in spirit of a place.


  13. My husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary here and this was the magic place where my son was conceived. I credit it to the comfort that surrounded us! Lol I will forever hold this place dear to my heart.



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